The Hindu Daily Review | 31st October 2018

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♦ Centre, states divide Rs 320 bn IGST in Oct; states to get over Rs 150 bn

  • As much as Rs 320 billion lying in the integrated goods and services tax (IGST) pool has been apportioned between the centre and states in the month of October. The states’ share would be over Rs 150 billion, the official told PTI.
  • The apportionment would add to the goods and services tax (GST) revenue of both the centre and states for October. The total revenue collection figures for the month would be released on November 1.
  • This is the fifth time that IGST funds have been divided between the centre and states.
  • As much as Rs 290 billion was settled in September, Rs 120 billion in August, Rs 500 billion in June and Rs 350 billion in February this year.
  • When some substantial amount accrues to IGST pool it is apportioned between the centre and states so that it does not lie idle with the centre, the official said, adding Rs 320 billion had been apportioned this month.
  • Under GST, the tax levied on consumption of goods or rendering of service is split 50:50 between the centre and the state. Such tax is known as central GST (CGST) and state GST (SGST).

SC bans 15-yr-old petrol, 10-yr-old diesel vehicles in NCR due to pollution

  • The Supreme Court on Monday prohibited the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the national capital region and directed the transport departments concerned to announce that such vehicles would be impounded if found plying.
  • Terming as “very critical” and “horrible” the prevailing pollution situation in Delhi-NCR region, the apex court directed that a list of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles be published on the web site of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and transport department.
  • A Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said that advertisement on this should also be published in the newspapers.The Bench directed the CPCB to immediately create a social media account on which citizens could lodge their complaint about pollution on which appropriate action could be taken by the authorities concerned.
  • It permitted the court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to take pre-emptive steps under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) without strict adherence to pollution stages delineated in the plan.GRAP is aimed at tackling air pollution in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas and it is designed to take urgent remedial action when air quality deteriorates. 
  • The apex court passed these directions on a note placed before it by advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, seeking urgent directions to correct the prevailing situation of pollution.

India, Japan sign $75 billion currency swap agreement 

  • Japan and India entered into a $75-billion currency swap arrangement that will bolster the country’s firepower as it battles a steep drop in the rupee’s value. An agreement to this effect was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing visit to Japan. 
  • “India and Japan agreed to enter into a bilateral swap arrangement of $75 billion. This swap arrangement would be 50% higher than our last swap agreement,” finance minister Arun Jaitley tweeted. 
  • Japan had offered a $50 billion currency swap in 2013 and, before that, one for $3 billion in 2008. “This facility will enable the agreed amount of foreign capital being available to India for use as and when the need arises,” a government official said. 
  • “This New Swap Agreement should aid in bringing greater stability to foreign exchange & capital markets in India,” the finance ministry said in a tweet. The facility will serve as a second line of defence for the rupee after the $393.5 billion of foreign exchange reserves that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has at its disposal. Under the arrangement, India can acquire dollars from Japan in exchange for rupees. 
  • Conversely, Japan can also seek dollars from India in exchange for yen. The arrangement will be used only when required, and will help meet short-term liquidity mismatches. India has taken several steps to contain its current account deficit, which could swell to an estimated 2.8% of GDP, and is seen as the root cause of rupee volatility. 

Domino’s Jubilant FoodWorks ties up with PepsiCo, drops Coca-Cola 

  • Jubilant FoodWorks, which runs Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin Donuts restaurant chains in India, on Tuesday announced beverage and snack maker PepsiCo as its new beverage partner, ending its 20-year association with Coca-Cola. 
  • “As part of the partnership, the PepsiCo portfolio of carbonated beverages of Pepsi, Mountain Dew, 7Up, and Mirinda along with Lipton Ice Tea will be sold across all Domino’s restaurants in India,” JFL said in a statement. 
  • ET had reported in its August 20 edition that JFL was in talks with PepsiCo for an exclusive beverage partnership deal. 
  • PepsiCo president Ahmed ElSheikh said in a statement: “This partnership strengthens our position in the food service segment in India.” 
  • With a store count of over thousand stores, Domino’s is the single largest quick service restaurant chain in the country operated by the listed JFL, and beverage deals are seen as significant opportunities for sampling and consumer connect.

Modi asks Japan’s MSMEs to explore business opportunities in India 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked Japan’s medium, small and micro enterprises to explore business opportunities in India and assured them of a more conducive environment to consolidate bilateral trade ties. 
  • Modi, who is here to attend the 13th India-Japan annual summit, said the ease of doing business was his top priority. 
  • “Some years ago, I spoke about making a mini-Japan in India. It’s a matter of great happiness for me that today, you are working in an even larger number in India,” Modi said while addressing ‘Make in India: India-Japan Partnership in Africa and Digital Partnership’ seminar in Tokyo on Monday. 
  • Modi said when he became prime minister in 2014, India was at 140th position in the ‘ease of doing business’ ranking of the World Bank. “Now India has reached 100th position and we are working towards better ranking,” he said. 
  • He said the Indian government was making all efforts to change the country’s business environment and ensure that there is ease of doing business and ease of living. “There are ample possibilities for Japan’s [micro] SMEs in India,” the prime minister said. 
  • “It’s not only big companies but Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that are welcome to India. Through MSMEs, too, Japanese entrepreneurs can take their businesses to new highs.” Low cost manufacturing and competitive labour cost make India more favourable for doing business. 
  • “Our software industry is very powerful. As I said earlier if we combine our software and your hardware, we can do a miracle in the world,” he said. 

Churn in the Neighbourhood: Bhutan | New PM, new challenges

  • Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), or Bhutan United Party, has emerged the winner in the final round of parliamentary elections in Bhutan, votes for which were cast on October 18. These parliamentary elections were the third since Bhutan transitioned to a constitutional monarchy 10 years ago.
  • Bhutan has a two-round election system, much like France. In the first round held in September, all four registered political parties contested, and the incumbent People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Tshering Tobgay finished third. The final round this month saw a contest between the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), or Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party, and the DNT.
  • The DNT first contested in 2013 and finished third in the first round. This time, it has won 30 seats in the National Assembly, the 47-seat elected lower House of Bhutan’s Parliament. The DPT has won 17 seats.
  • Bhutan’s three elections so far have produced three different winners. The DPT won in 2008, and PDP in 2013.

Union Minister Smt Harsimrat Badal inaugurates Gujarat’s first Mega Food Park in Surat; says 2nd Park in Mehsana sanctioned  Surat MFP to provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers 

  • Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal today inaugurated the first Mega Food Park in Gujarat. Promoted by M/s Gujarat Agro Infrastructure Mega Food Park Pvt. Ltd the Park is located at Village Shah and Vasravi, Taluka Mangrol, District Surat. A 2nd Mega Food Park has been sanctioned by the Ministry in Mehsana District of Gujarat.
  • The Gujarat Agro Mega Food Park will benefit the people of Surat District and the people of nearby Districts of Navsari, Tapi, Narmada & Bharuch. This Mega Food Park has been set up in 70.15 acre of land at a cost of Rs. 117.87 crore.
  • The facilities being created by the developer at Central Processing Centre (CPC) of this Mega Food Park include Multi Chamber Cold Store of 3,500 MT (1,500 MT Frozen & 2,000 MT MA), Warehouse of 5,000 MT, IQF of 2 TPH, Pulping Line, QC Laboratory and other related food processing facilities.
  • The Park also has a common administrative building for office and other uses by the entrepreneurs and 4 PPCs at Bharuch, Padra (Vadodara), Valsad and Navsari having facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms.
  •  Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, inaugurated the Park today in the presence of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Shri Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat, and Smt. Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Surat. 
  • Speaking on the occasion, Smt. Badal said that the Mega Food Park will leverage an additional investment of about Rs. 250 crores in 25-30 food processing units in the park and generate a turnover of about Rs. 450-500 crore annually. The Park will also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.
  • The Minister also said that the modern infrastructure for food processing created at Park will benefit the farmers, growers, processors and consumers of Gujarat and adjoining areas immensely and prove to be a big boost to the growth of the food processing sector in the State of Gujarat.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe closest ever to Sun

  • NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe — enroute to the Sun to unravel its mysteries — has become the closest spacecraft to it. The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the Sun’s surface on October 29, as calculated by the Parker Solar Probe team, NASA said in a statement on Monday.
  • The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German, American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.
  • As the Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface expected in 2024.
  • “It’s been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” said Project Manager Andy Driesman from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “It’s a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on October 31.”
  • The Parker Solar Probe team periodically measures the spacecraft’s precise speed and position using NASA’s Deep Space Network or DSN.
  • Parker Solar Probe will begin its first solar encounter on October 31, continuing to fly closer and closer to the Sun’s surface until it reaches its first perihelion — the point closest to the Sun — on November 5.
  • “The spacecraft will face brutal heat and radiation conditions while providing humanity with unprecedentedly close—up observations of a star and helping us understand phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades,” said NASA.
  • Earlier this month, the probe successfully completed its first flyby of Venus at a distance of about 1,500 miles. Throughout its mission, the probe will make six more Venus gravity assist and 24 total passes by the Sun.

Arunachal on high alert after second landslide in China in 13 days

  • Three central Arunachal Pradesh districts have been put on high alert after China let India know about a major landslide blocking the Yaluzangbu (Yarlung Tsangpo, which becomes the Brahmaputra in India) on Monday, the second such disaster in 13 days in Tibet.
  • The Yarlung Tsangpo flows into Arunachal Pradesh at Siang and meanders through three districts — Upper Siang, Siang and East Siang — before meeting two other rivers to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream.
  • In a message to the Central Water Commission on Tuesday morning, the Chinese authorities said a landslide happened on Monday at the same location where a landslide had blocked the Yarlung Tsangpo on October 17. The barrier formed that day gave way two days later without causing any damage to the downstream districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

SBI halves daily ATM withdrawal to ₹20K for certain card holders from Wednesday

  • The country’s largest lender SBI has halved the daily cash withdrawal limit from ATMs for certain debit-card holders to ₹20,000 from Wednesday.
  • The withdrawal limit has been curtailed on Classic and Maestro debit cards, held by a large number of the bank customers.
  • However, customers with other variants of SBI debit card can continue to enjoy higher daily withdrawal from ATMs.
  • As per a senior SBI official, the average cash withdrawal from ATMs per card is less than ₹20,000 and the move will help in checking frauds and promote digital transaction.
  • About a month ago, the State Bank of India (SBI) had alerted its customers holding Classic and Maestro debit cards regarding reduction of cash withdrawal limit to ₹20,000 a day from ATM starting October 31.

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